Ace Attorney 3: Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth is the third official Ace Attorney musical performed by the all female Takarazuka Revue. When I reviewed the first musical last year, I said it was a better telling of the story than the source material.
When I reviewed the second musical, I lauded it for being a darker take on the Phoenix Wright characters. But neither of the previous two musicals — neither their good points nor flaws — could have prepared me for the complete insanity that is Ace Attorney 3: Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth.
Good — Not the Story I Was Expecting
Despite being the third musical in the Ace Attorney series, Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth is actually a "mid-quel" and is set just before the start of the second musical. After the events of the first musical, Edgeworth has been wandering the world for several years, trying to find a new reason for practising law. As he boards a flight to visit his hometown in California, he runs into hopeless loser and wannabe ladies' man Larry Butz. But after both fall asleep on the plane, they wake up to discover the year is no longer 2013, but 1987. Soon Edgeworth finds himself caught up in a murder investigation and must take the reigns of the case to insure justice is done, even if that means defeating his own father in a court of law.
Needless to say, this isn't exactly the story I was expecting going in, as it is based on no case from any of the games, nor is actual, physical time travel ever an element in Ace Attorney. Despite this, the series has tampered enough with supernatural elements before (namely ghosts and possession) that the story of Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth doesn't seem out of place.
Good — A Deeper Look at Edgeworth
What is most interesting about this story, however, is not the time travel nor the case; it is how the whole situation affects Edgeworth — especially when it comes to how he interacts with his father. While the father he knew was moral to a fault (a fact that led him to his untimely death) the Gregory Edgeworth he meets during his time travel is more like the defence attorney version of Manfred Von Karma — willing to falsify evidence in order to get a favourable verdict. This, of course, stuns Miles to his core. Much of the plot is spent with him trying to deal with his father issues — to separate the man he knew and idolised from the reality he's encountering. Overcoming this dilemma, combined with his drive to uncover the truth behind the murder mystery, transforms him into the stable character we see in the second musical.
Good — Callback City
Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth is brimming with callbacks to the games. The maid cafe from the third game is present in 1987 — owned and operated by an always lascivious Wendy Oldbag — and it is Larry who is forced to get a part-time job there. A young Winston Payne (with a full head of hair) is the star of the prosecutor's office. And in the climax of the trial, Edgeworth trades in his "modern day" outfit for the suit he wore back at the time of his prosecutorial debut. It's fanservice (not the sexual kind) at its finest.
Mixed — More Dance, Shorter Songs
Compared to the other two Ace Attorney musicals, Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth is overflowing with dance. While this makes sense, it being a musical after all, it can be more than a little off-putting when the whole plot is put on hold for five minutes of interpretive dance.
The score, on the other hand, features numerous returning songs and more than a few new ones. However, most are far shorter in length than the songs in the other two musicals and tend to end right as they get going. That said, though, the singing — especially from Miles (Yumi Hiro) — is much better than in the previous musicals, and she proves here that she can really hold her own musically as the lead player.
Bad — Doesn't Hold Up Well to Scrutiny
While the characters are handled well, a lot of the setting and plot doesn't make much sense when you start to think about it. Why, in 1987 California, does everyone look like a 1940's cabaret guest? How do Larry and Edgeworth have usable money? Does Edgeworth carry inordinate amounts of 25-year-old, different-looking cash with him at all times? How did they get to the past (and get back for that matter)? And all these questions are just the tip of the iceberg we can look at without delving deeply into spoiler-filled waters.
Despite the large amount of belief that needed to be suspended, I enjoyed Ace Attorney 3: Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth. In fact I enjoyed it more than either of the other musicals. It was a fun character piece that cared more about having interesting personal dilemmas than wasting time on the hows and whys of the situation.
In the years since the second musical, Tomu Ranju and several other cast members of the original musical have moved on to other Takarazuka groups. Nonetheless, Yumi Hiro as Edgeworth really held her own and excellently portrayed his complex and enjoyable character. So even though another Phoenix Wright-focused musical seems unlikely, that doesn't really seem too sad. Because, after all, with two Ace Attorney Investigations games to draw inspiration from, there's still plenty of the Miles Edgeworth story left to tell in musical form.
Ace Attorney 3: Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth was performed by the Takarazuka Revue Cosmos Troupe and ended its run in Tokyo this past Monday.